Deputy COO James Murdoch suggested yesterday in his testimony at Parliament that News Corp didn’t know a lot of details about News Of The World’s phone hacking because an outside law firm, Harbottle and Lewis, had bungled a 2007 investigation into the matter. The firm’s feedback, he said, “goes some distance in explaining why it has taken a long time for new information to come out. It was one of the pillars of the environment around the place that led the company to believe that all of these things were a matter of the past and that new allegations could be denied.”
Harbottle and Lews said yesterday that it asked “News International to release us from our professional duties of confidentiality in order that we could respond to any inaccurate statements or contentions and to explain events in 2007.” But since News International refused, “we are still unable to respond in any detail as to our advice or the scope of our instructions in 2007, which is a matter of great regret.”
Now the law firm can at least answer questions from police and Parliament. Here’s the News Corp announcement.
News Corporation’s Management and Standards Committee can confirm that News International has today authorised the law firm Harbottle and Lewis to answer questions from the Metropolitan Police Service and parliamentary select committees in respect of what they were asked to do.
The MSC is authorised to co-operate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone hacking case, police payments and all other related issues across News International, as well as conducting its own enquiries where appropriate.